Sport for development

Project description

Title: Sector Programme on Sport for Development
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, Namibia, Palestinian territories
Overall term: 2012 to 2018

Kabul, Afghanistan. Equal opportunities, exercising together – not the norm in Afghanistan.girls and boys meet as equals at a sports festival hosted by German development cooperation actors in cooperation with German Football Association (DFB) © GIZ


Sport promotes social integration, encourages an active lifestyle and serves as an educational tool. It has an almost unparalleled reach into all spheres of society. Through its professional and voluntary structures, sport facilitates participation and creates a sense of belonging across ethnic and social divides.

The idea of using sport for development first gained international recognition in 2001, when the United Nations (UN) appointed its first Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace. Two years later, the UN recognised the potential of sport ‘as a means to promote education, health, development and peace’ (UN Resolution 58/5). In order to raise public awareness of the importance of sport, in 2013 the UN declared 6 April the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Agenda 2030 also underscores the contribution that sport can make to implementing the Sustainable Development Goals, for example through the sustainable use of resources and the inclusion of individuals with disabilities.

When used knowledgeably, sport can have a particularly positive impact on the development of children and young people. Through sport, they learn to act in a fair and tolerant manner, grow in self-esteem and develop a willingness to take on responsibility. Sport teaches life skills that empower them to overcome difficult circumstances in their lives and take charge of their own futures. Having recognised this potential, the German Government is employing the notion of sport for development as a cross-cutting topic in German development cooperation. The topic links to other development goals in areas such as education, health promotion, violence prevention, conflict transformation, vocational education and training, gender equality, organisational development, inclusivity, and the integration of refugees.


Sport is increasingly employed within a development cooperation context as an instrument for mobilisation, awareness-raising and integration, and is considered an innovative topic that provides impetus for change and sustainable development at both individual and societal level.

Shuafat, Palestianian territories. Shaping the future – children and young people account for the majority of the population in almost all developing countries, and are crucial to the future of their nations. © GIZ


For many years now, German development cooperation actors have been using sport as an instrument for mobilisation, awareness-raising and integration. The goal is to establish sport as a tool in the long-term structure of development cooperation. GIZ is implementing various initiatives using sport for development on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Priority areas comprise substantive and strategic policy advisory services, the development of Germany’s contribution to using sport for development with long-term national and international positioning, research support, and monitoring and evaluation for analysing lessons learned and measuring impact. Measures are being implemented in selected partner countries (currently Afghanistan, Brazil, Colombia, Namibia and the Palestinian territories).

In these countries, GIZ is working with partners from the world of organised sport such as the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), the German Football Association (DFB) and local partner organisations. Together, they are developing participatory methods and teaching and learning materials for using sport to aid the achievement of development goals. One such teaching and learning resource is the Kicking Youth Competencies manual on the use of sport to develop the skills of young people in the Palestinian territories. Targeted training is being provided to multipliers and teaching staff, for example female sports teachers at girls’ schools in Afghanistan.

Sport can be used as a means of acquiring new partners for German development cooperation. GIZ is working with governmental and non-governmental organisations, stakeholders form the worlds of sport, civil society, policy-making and business, and international organisations that are already using sport effectively to promote young people’s development.


Afghanistan and Namibia. Project work here focuses on efforts to strengthen the position of girls and young women. Working with the Afghan Ministry of Education, it has trained almost 100 male and female sports teachers at girls’ schools, and developed a specialist school curriculum. The construction of a girls’ centre on the premises of the Namibia Football Association (NFA) in Windhoek has created development opportunities for girls and young women. The centre provides a safe space for engaging in sports activities and learning. The portfolio is rounded off with tourism training, delivered in cooperation with partners from the business sector. Sports such as football and basketball are being used for a range of purposes, including health education and HIV prevention, and linked with life skills training.

Colombia and Brazil. Initiatives in Colombia focus on violence prevention, peaceful conflict resolution and the reintegration of internally displaced persons. A manual has been developed specially to support social reconciliation through sport. To date, 100 teachers and 160 coaches have been trained, and 15 women and men have passed their instructor training qualification. Some 15,000 children and young people have been reached through these efforts. Work is also underway in Brazil on violence prevention and youth promotion, especially in high risk schools and disadvantaged neighbourhoods, where around 30,000 children and young people have so far benefited from the initiatives.

Palestinian territories. Sport is being employed as a means of promoting vocational education and training, and preparing people for the job market. The initiative is designed to increase the appeal of vocational education and training, thereby supporting other vocational training programmes and units of German development cooperation. When used knowledgeably, sport can serve as a means of training people in personal and social skills (soft skills) such as teamwork, communication and decision-making, all of which are foundational for professional development. The programme has reached over 2,000 young people to date through different summer schools.

Britta Heidemann, a successful German fencer, is supporting the development priorities of BMZ and DOSB in her role as a Sport for Development ambassador. She is using her profile to raise awareness of sport and sustainable development, both among the public and within the world of sport. For example, Heidemann visited German development cooperation sports projects during the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and reported on them in the media. In 2016, she promoted sport as a panel member of BMZ’s Forum for the Future.

Salvador da Bahía, Brazil. All for one – German development cooperation actors use sport and exercise to teach life skills and initiate learning processes on topics such as the environment, gender equality and health. © GIZ / Florian Kopp


Further Information